Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In the Clutch.

Forgive me for stating the blatantly obvious, but this semester has been a learning experience for me. I have learned more than I thought I would about the subject matter covered in my classes, and I have discovered a few things here and there about myself and my faith as well. Even with all this learning, it seems like there is still one more lesson for me to take to heart.

My grades this semester have been decent except for one class. I have loved learning about the course content, but for one reason or another what I learned has failed to show up when I need it to, namely the test and projects thus far. Without going into specifics, I need to do much better on the final exam than on the midterm to get a grade sufficient for the class to count towards my degree. Perfectly doable, but it will take a lot of hard studying before next week Monday to make it happen.

If you know me at all you probably know that this is a situation I have never found myself in. In all my previous classes I have been able to game the system (not cheating, but just squeaking by on understanding very general concepts and putting things together when I need to) on tests and projects to the point that I could avoid doing any serious amount of studying and still come out alright. I do not particularly enjoy this feeling.

The strange thing though, is that I am finally starting to realize that this is a good thing. This is a large part of why I came to grad school in the first place. I may have been prepared to jump into a job from a skills standpoint, although probably not exactly the kind of job I would really want, but mentally I was nowhere close.

People always talk about the great sports figures and how they always seem to step up in big games. He or she could have had four or five dismal performances, but when the season or the championship is on the line he or she takes a deep breath, intensifies focus, and does what is necessary to win.

I, like so many others, have seen that happen. I, from the comfort of my couch, usually with a sleeve of Chips Ahoy! and a glass of milk, have asked myself whether I could step up like that. Obviously I am completely incapable of leading a football team to victory, pitching a shutout in the World Series, or hitting two clutch freethrows to win an NCAA basketball tournament, but why is my situation now so much different?

If I plan to be a valuable employee, manager, or executive one day, this is something I need to learn to do. I can see the challenge, I know the consequences of failure and the rewards of success, and there is nothing to do now but come through in the clutch.

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